Many gardeners experience issues with their seedlings mysteriously wilting, flopping over, and dying – most of the time this is caused by damping off, an invisible killer that is caused by pathogens that kill seedlings after they germinate.
Damping off usually occurs in damp, cool, still-air conditions – and be easily prevented. When affected by damping off, the seedling will usually have a shriveled base or the stem will have lesions at the ground level, and it will flop over and die.
Seedling above is affected by damping off.
Here are our TOP 2 Tips to prevent damping off in your tomato and chile pepper seedlings:
After sprouting, it is important to have movement of the seedlings and air around them. Putting a small fan on the seedlings for a few hours a day will help. If you don't have a fan, you can also use your hands and gently brush or pat the seedlings with your hands daily to stimulate them to grow stockier (or you can do this along with the use of a fan). By simulating the natural winds that occur outside, the plants will respond by thickening their stems and growing stockier (not so leggy). Plus, this will nearly eliminate damping off disease with your seedlings, and will prevent them from having weak stems.
Chile Pepper and Tomato seedlings don't like to have soggy feet. If you overwater your seedlings and the soil never drys out, you can have problems with damping off, mold, and those bothersome fungus gnats. Let the growing medium dry out slightly between watering. Peppers, especially, are prone to drowning if their roots are in constantly wet soil or growing medium. If your pepper plant leaves are turning yellow, this is often a symptom of overwatering.